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LB polls not possible, rule ECP, National Assembly body

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and National Assembly Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs unanimously agreed that free, fair and transparent local bodies elections are not possible within the specified timeframe. The ECP and the Committee unanimously recommended that the announced schedule of the Local Bodies Election should be reviewed and delayed till March in Punjab and Sindh and proposed to the Punjab and Sindh governments to file a petition in the Supreme Court in this regard.

The Committee met with Mian Abdul Manan in the Chair at Parliament House on Thursday and discussed the issue of local bodies elections. Manan told Business Recorder that the Committee had asked Punjab and Sindh governments to file a petition in the Supreme Court with a view to seeking time to print ballot papers and other material. He said the ECP and committee gave its stance that holding of LB polls in Sindh and Punjab in January was impossible due to insufficient printing capacity of 300 million ballot papers in Punjab and 50 million in Sindh due to time constraint. Moreover, it is not possible to purchase 400,000 biometric machines due to shortage of funds.

It was also confirmed by the Additional Secretary, ECP that if provinces will submit their requests for delay in upcoming local bodies elections in Supreme Court of Pakistan, ECP would endorse their point of view, as ECP had already stated in the apex court that the given time for Free, Fair and Transparent Election was insufficient.

It was informed and confirmed by the Additional Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan that technical team of PCSIR and NADRA had unanimously declared that magnetic ink used by the Election Commission of Pakistan, during the General Election 2013, did not have more than six hours life.

It was also informed by the Additional Secretary, ECP that Election Commission was already looking after the suggestions proffered by Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regarding the installation of biometric thumb impression devices at all polling stations in KPK and across the country. The Secretary, ECP, briefed the Committee about the observations already made by the ECP about the said device. He said, it could be installed only in a dust-free atmosphere, which is impossible in Pakistan, owing to location of polling stations in schools, colleges etc. It was also informed by the Additional Secretary, ECP that 4 lakh biometric devices would be required for local bodies elections in the country.

For the installation of such devices it needed Rs 15-20 billion approximately

The meeting was attended by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Dr Nisar Ahmad Jatt, Chaudhary Salman Haneef Khan, Ms. Arifa Khalid Parvez, Ms. Shahida Rehmani, and Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, MNAs, besides senior officers from Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Election Commission of Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013